Posted: Mon 8th Jul 2024

Independent holiday parks outshine big names in latest Which? survey

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Small and independent holiday park brands have outperformed established giants like Butlin’s, Center Parcs, and Pontins in the latest Which? holiday parks survey.

The survey, which collected feedback from over 1,700 people about their experiences at UK holiday parks over the past two years, evaluated parks on eleven criteria including the quality of accommodation, customer service, cleanliness, facilities and activities, and value for money. An overall customer score was calculated based on satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the park.

Pontins Falls Short

Pontins, a household name in the UK holiday park industry since 1946, received the lowest customer score of just 56%. Taken over by Britannia in 2011, Pontins has struggled with multiple site closures in the past year, leaving only two remaining locations. It earned poor ratings across various categories, including customer service and cleanliness. One dissatisfied visitor described their stay as “dirty and dated,” while another called the facilities “filthy and run down.”

Mixed Reviews for Butlin’s and Center Parcs

Butlin’s did not fare much better, ranking among the bottom five with a customer score of 67%. Guests were particularly critical of the customer service and food quality. However, Butlin’s did receive better ratings for accommodation quality and children’s activities, with one loyal visitor noting, “We love Butlin’s, they cater for all the family.”

Center Parcs, despite being the most visited brand in the survey, tied with Haven Holiday Parks at 69%. It received commendations for customer service and the quality of accommodation but fell short on value for money. One survey respondent remarked, “The overall holiday was good, but everything was so expensive.”

Top Performers: Potters Resorts and Forest Holidays

Leading the rankings, Potters Resorts achieved an impressive customer score of 87%. With two all-inclusive locations in Essex and Norfolk, Potters was praised for its wide range of free facilities and high-quality entertainment. Forest Holidays followed closely with a score of 80%, appreciated for its woodland stays and high standards in accommodation and service.

Naomi Leach, Deputy Editor of Which? Travel, commented, “Our latest survey shows that it’s worth looking beyond the best-known names, with smaller and independent resorts offering excellent value for money, great customer service, and plenty of onsite entertainment.”

Industry Responses

A spokesperson for Center Parcs responded, “Center Parcs offers unique family short breaks in the UK. We welcome over 2 million guests to our villages annually, and we are 97% full all through the year. We are proud of our consistently high guest satisfaction scores and over 60% of guests will go on to make another booking with us. Our guests demand a high-quality experience and each year we invest tens of millions of pounds improving our villages to ensure we meet their expectations.”

Both Butlin’s and Pontins declined to comment on the survey results.

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